Visiting Artist Lecture Series: Papay Solomon
Liberian-American artist Papay Solomon lives between two worlds: his adopted home in America and his African heritage. His work boldly attempts to reconcile the two with an artistic vision enhanced by his formal education in the West while wildly alive with the indelible imprint of his home country.
Solomon paints hyperrealist figures, with traces of non finito and color field qualities, to amplify stories and experiences of the African diaspora. With this approach to the figurative tradition, Solomon attentively renders his sitters with dignity, complexity and beauty. Faces of African immigrants are meticulously imbued with reverence that echoes the grandeur of Renaissance and Baroque portraiture. In doing so, Solomon invigorates the structures and techniques of Western art with an African soul.
In 1993 Guinea, Solomon’s mother fled the First Liberian Civil War while she was still pregnant with him and crossed into the neighboring country on foot. At age five, growing political unrest in the Guinean city of Gueckedou forced Solomon and his family to again relocate hundreds of miles away to refugee camps, where he would spend much of his childhood.
At 14, Solomon resettled with his family in the United States, where he attended high school and the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. He graduated with a BFA and was awarded Outstanding Undergraduate in 2018. Solomon received the 2018 Friends of Contemporary Art Artists’ Grants Award from the Phoenix Art Museum and the Erni Cabat Award from the Tucson Museum of Art. More recently, Forever Becoming: Young Arizona Artists at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.